VIK­INGS 23, PACK­ERS 10

QB could be lost for re­main­der of the sea­son with bro­ken col­lar­bone

Packer Plus - - Analysis - DAVE CAMP­BELL AP PRO FOOTBALL WRITER

Re­cap, sum­mary, game re­port, In­sider, grades

Min­neapo­lis — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers ar­rived at the Su­per Bowl site for this sea­son, with a re­al­is­tic goal of re­turn­ing to Min­nesota in four months for a crack at an­other cham­pi­onship.

Their chance of re­turn­ing in Fe­bru­ary took an aw­fully big hit when Rodgers broke his col­lar­bone.

Har­ri­son Smith led Min­nesota’s de­fense in a thor­ough dis­man­tling of the Pack­ers af­ter Rodgers left the field on a cart, tak­ing a big piece of Green Bay’s ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions with him and paving the way for a 23-10 vic­tory by the Vik­ings on Sun­day at U.S. Bank Sta­dium that trans­formed the tra­jec­tory of the NFC North race.

The Pack­ers said Rodgers could be done for the sea­son.

“I love play­ing against him. He’s a com­peti­tor,” said Vik­ings de­fen­sive end Ever­son Grif­fen, who had one of four sacks of backup Brett Hund­ley af­ter Rodgers fell on his throw­ing shoul­der af­ter be­ing taken down by An­thony Barr dur­ing an in­com­ple­tion on the sec­ond drive for the Pack­ers.

“I wish him the best, but we went out there and won the game un­der any cir­cum­stances. As for the game plan, we stuck with it.”

Smith had 1½ sacks on safety blitzes, a div­ing in­ter­cep­tion and two pass breakups, help­ing the Vik­ings (4-2) limit the in­jury-de­pleted Pack­ers to a sea­son-low 227 yards. The Pack­ers had five first downs and 102 yards over the first three quar­ters.

“It’s a tricky sit­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially when the start­ing quar­ter­back goes down and you’re just in there,” said Hund­ley, who com­pleted 18 of 33 passes for 157 yards and his first ca­reer touch­down, to Da­vante Adams, but threw three in­ter­cep- tions.

“I’ve been pre­par­ing for this mo­ment for a long time now. Ob­vi­ously, we didn’t get the job done today. But we’ll be bet­ter.”

Barr, who later left with a con­cus­sion, was not pe­nal­ized for the hit on Rodgers. The Pack­ers didn’t make a fuss, clearly more con­cerned about try­ing to re­cover from the emo­tional set­back and bring Hund­ley up to speed with the rest of the of­fense as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“I know An­thony Barr per­son­ally,” Hund­ley said of his for­mer UCLA team­mate. “I wouldn’t imag­ine he’s a dirty player.”

Vik­ings backup Case Keenum made his fourth start and fin­ished for the fifth time in place of Sam Brad­ford, who’s been way­laid by wear and tear in his twice-re­paired left knee.

The drop-off from Brad­ford to Keenum hasn’t been nearly as steep for the Vik­ings as what the Pack­ers are fac­ing with­out the two-time NFL MVP. Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy dis­missed a question about sign­ing a free-agent quar­ter­back.

“It’s a big deal, you know?” Adams said. “We suf­fered a lot of in­juries, lost the game, and a lot of guys in this locker room aren’t OK with things like that. But at the same time, we have a lot of faith in Brett Hund­ley, and it’s up to us to do our part.”

Keenum went 24 for 38 for 239 yards with­out top wide re­ceiver Ste­fon Diggs, who was out with a groin in­jury. He threw 13 times to Adam Thie­len, com­plet­ing nine for 97 yards.

Keenum was in­ter­cepted for the first time this sea­son, but he con­nected with Jer­ick McKin­non on a screen pass for a touch­down and again gave the Vik­ings a con­fi­dent, en­er­getic pres­ence in the hud­dle. He wasn’t sacked.

“I felt very com­fort­able out there,” Keenum said, adding: “I just have to keep do­ing my job.”

Here are some other key de­vel­op­ments from the game: Pack­ers sec­ondary, a pri

mary con­cern: McCarthy said he was con­cerned about his de­fense en­ter­ing the game, with three starters, corner­backs Davon House and Kevin King and strong safety Mor­gan Bur­nett, ruled out with in­juries. Then an­other corner­back, Quin­ten Rollins, hurt his an­kle and didn’t re­turn. “We’ll just con­tinue to work through it,” McCarthy said.

Quiet re­turn: The Pack­ers had Ty Mont­gomery back at tail­back af­ter miss­ing the pre­vi­ous game be­cause of bro­ken ribs, but he was lim­ited to 28 yards on 10 car­ries. Aaron Jones gained 41 yards on 13 at­tempts. Mont­gomery made a jug­gling catch at the goal line that was ul­ti­mately ruled in­com­plete by re­play re­view re­ver­sal, forc­ing a short field goal in­stead and keep­ing the Vik­ings in front 1410 right be­fore half­time.

So much for that: For the first time in six games this sea­son, the Pack­ers had their en­tire start­ing of­fen­sive line in­tact. That lasted about half the game. Right tackle Bryan Bu­laga was re­moved be­cause of a con­cus­sion, and left tackle David Bakhtiari’s ham­string flared up again af­ter he missed the pre­vi­ous four games with the in­jury. Left guard Lane Tay­lor also de­parted with in­juries to his an­kle and knee. “We have to keep weather­ing that storm,” Bakhtiari said.

Step­ping up: The Vik­ings have ben­e­fited from qual­ity depth be­yond just Keenum. With tail­back Dalvin Cook done for the sea­son be­cause of a torn ACL in his left knee, McKin­non has raised his pro­duc­tiv­ity. He has 245 to­tal yards and three touch­downs on 43 touches over the past two games, mak­ing up for a lost fum­ble that Clay Matthews re­turned 63 yards to set up Hund­ley’s touch­down pass. “He makes us look good,” left guard Jeremiah Sir­les said.

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